Leader of Scripps Oceanography research has jumped from Tony Haymet to Margaret Leinen.
  • Leader of Scripps Oceanography research has jumped from Tony Haymet to Margaret Leinen.
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Scripps Institution of Oceanography

8622 Kennel Way, La Jolla

It took a bit longer than expected, but over the summer the University of California announced it had finally found someone to take control of the venerable Scripps Institution of Oceanography from controversial Australian Tony Haymet. And now, the new employee has a handsome salary to go with her heavy-duty title. The convoluted story begins way back in the fall of 2011, when the university’s board of regents scheduled an item regarding the “Appointment of and Compensation for [an] Acting Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Dean of the Graduate School of Marine Sciences, San Diego Campus.” That set off speculation over whether Haymet, who held those positions, was being shown the door. Then, almost as soon as a reporter called university headquarters in Oakland to inquire about the matter, the item disappeared from the agenda without explanation. Twelve months later, the action was back before the regents, with an explanation that Haymet was taking a nine-month sabbatical but would subsequently return to run Scripps.

Just three months later, Haymet, a global-warming champion with close political links to Democratic ex–vice president Al Gore, abruptly announced he was quitting his job. The frontrunner to replace him was initially seen as Marcia McNutt, Barack Obama’s director of the United States Geological Survey, who had recently left her job. But as the university took its time to fill the Scripps spot, McNutt opted to become editor-in-chief of the influential journal Science. This July the regents announced their pick: Margaret Leinen, an oceanographer and assistant director for geosciences and coordinator of environmental research and education at the National Science Foundation.

Unlike Haymet, the new Scripps director appears a bit more resigned to the inevitability of global warming and its moneymaking possibilities. According to a UCSD news release announcing her appointment: “She was the founder and president of the Climate Response Fund, a non-profit organization that works to foster discussion of climate engineering research and to decrease the risk that these techniques might be called on or deployed before they are adequately understood and regulated. Previously, she spent two years as the chief science officer of Climos, Inc., a startup company focused on green technology for climate mitigation.” Leinen’s annual salary at Scripps has been set at $310,000 a year, along with a onetime $19,375 relocation allowance. Haymet’s base pay in 2012 was $295,000, but his gross pay was a hefty $336,157, according to a university website.

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